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favour and smile of his heavenly Father are becoine his portion. Therein he makes up his happiness. Independent of Divine approbation, nothing can communicate peace or pleasure to his mind. For he is convinced that in God's fa“ your is life.” Thus “a good man is satisfied “ from himself:” (Prov. xiv. 14) not from him. self, or his own righteousness, as opposed to the merit of his Redeemer, but from himself, as opposed to those extrinsecal and vain sources of satisfaction to which the worldling applies for consolation. “ The testimony of his conscience," enlightened by the word and Spirit of God, that both his person and endeavours, though the former be sinful and the latter imperfect, are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, affords him a satisfaction, even in the deepest scenes of outward adversity, which the world can neither give aor take away. (2 Cor. i. 12.)
A general intention of pleasing God is prayed for by every regenerate person; “ because the end constitutes the specific difference in things moral, as the shape does in things natural. But here it behoveth us to clear up some doubts respecting the intention of pleasing God.”
“1. It is inquired, whether in every good work the actual intention of pleasing God be necessary throughout the whole performance of it? E. G. A dutiful son obeys his parents with the intention of pleasing God; I ask, whether he commits sin in any particular instance of duty, in case he doth not always keep this intention actually in remembrance? I answer; it is sufficient that the intention preceded, and is habitually retained, although it be not thought of in every individual act: for many operations are produced by virtue of a primary intention, when they are
no longer accompanied therewith. In like man. ner as an arrow is carried to its mark through the intermediate space, by a single effort of the archer, though he neither thinks of the space n r the mark : so by one impulse of the will a good work attains its aim, when the performer no longer thinks of his aim or first intention. The same might be illustrated by the similitude of a traveller, who does not at every step think of the place whither he is going, and yet proceeds strait forwards by virtue of his first intention.”
“ But here two things seem necessary to be noticed: first, that we must labour as much as pos! sible to maintain the actual intention of pleasing and glorifying God in every particular action. Secondly, we must b-ware, lest, after the first good intention, some evil and inordinate intention should arise. For the latter does not derive rectitude from the former; but the former will be marred, corrupted, and defiled by the latter."
It is inquired. whether it be possible for a regenerate man always to retain this habitual intention of " pleasing God in all things, although occasionally he may fail in many things ? I answer that it is not only possible, but even necessary, if he will keep faith and a good conscience : for these do not agree, nor have place in the same heart together with the design of sinning and displeasing God. Therefore every faithful man hath a constant design of pleasing God, and abstaining from sin, according to that declaration of St. Paul, “ The good that I would, “I do not; but the evil that I would not, that I - do: therefore if I do that I would not, it is no
more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.' (Rom. vii. 19.) He that chooseth the good and refuses the evil, retains the design of pleasing
God, although, under the influence of evil concupiscence, he may sometimes commit that which is displeasing to God; he makes it his main business to please God in all things, while he studies to avoid every individual sin.”
“ 3. It is inquired whether a faithful man, retaining this design of pleasing God, be always acceptable and pleasing to Him, notwithstanding the forementioned failings and infirmities? I answer, first, that the person of a pious and faithful man is always pleasing and acceptable to God; because he is regarded, not as he is in himself, but as a member of Christ the head : “ There is “no condemnation to them who are in Christ “ Jesus.” (Rom. viii. 1.) Secondly, The good works of believers, although imperfect, are nevertheless pleasing to God, because they are regarded by Him, as a loving Father, not as a rigid Judge; as covered and adorned by the perfect obedience of Christ, not as naked and alone. Lastly, the failings and sins of believers are in themselves odious and displease God; and yet that displeasure affects not their persons.
persons. God hates sin therefore in the regenerate themselves; and for that cause, by the Spirit of grace, proclaims war against it; but the regenerate themselves are, notwithstanding, acceptable to Him, and for that cause He confers on them His favour and His blessing.
It is supposed that all who join in the recital of our collect are possessed by this holy ambition to please God; for the use of such a prayer would be absurd in one who is destitute of it. Is the reader conscious of this desire? Is it the labour
* Bishop Davenant's Exposition of the Epistle to the Colossians, chap. i. ver. 10.
of his life to be accepted of God? Is it the supreme object of his wishes and aims? If not, let him not mock God by suffering the petition of our church and of all her genuine members to pass over feigned lips.
We proceed to inquire, what our church means by being “without God," when she says that s without Him we are not able to please Him.” To be without God, implies a separation from God, both with respect to His favourable regard and the communications of His grace. All men naturally are thus separated from God. For we are “ by nature children of wrath," as our catechism has taught us. We are atheists, if not in the common sense of the word, yet in one that is very awful ; for we are without any intercourse with God, excluded from any participation of His spiritual influence. Now Divine influence is as necessary to the life and all the vital functions of the soul, as breath is to the life and operations of the body. Man indeed, in his natural state, has a capability of loving and enjoying God; just as the body, in a paroxism of faintness, has a capability of hearing, seeing, and smelling. But this capability must, in both cases, be restòred to its proper office by extrinsic power.
In this state of separation from God, the human soul is, of necessity, destitute of those sensibilities and emotions which are requisite to a state of acceptance with God, and to the performance of any act which is pleasing to Him, as the 13th article of our church declares in conformity to Scripture doctrine. It has no faith in Christ for pardon and justification. It has no love to God, as a Father, Friend, and Benefactor. Now faith
“ work by love" in every one who is acceptable to God. For “ without faith it is
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impossible to please Him ;” and “love is the “ fulfilling of the law.”
We may now see that the declaration of our collect is founded in the strictest verity. It is fully sanctioned by the word of God. (See Rom. viii. 8.) Nothing that is done by an unjustified and unsanctified person is acceptable to God. For every act so performed wants the requisites which are essential to acceptable service. We
purpose of pointing out the folly of those persons, who think that every man may so act by his own unassisted powers as to please God; and who suppose that mere morality, independent of faith in Christ, or any spiritual regard to God, will recommend them to His favour. There are many such deceived persons. They are conscious of no prevailing desire to please God, but other aims rule their hearts and conduct: and yet they fancy that they do please Him. They derive no spiritual influence from Him; for they feel no need of it and never seek it, and yet imagine that they are acceptable to God. O fatal delusion of the fallen mind! May God in His mercy dispel from the minds of all such dreamers the awful phantasms of error, before it be too late to derive advantage from their dispersion !
It is supposed that this declaration is fully understood and firmly believed by the members of our church; that they are all convinced that “ without God they are unable to please Him :" that Divine instruction and aid are necessary to a right performance of every act, and that Divine mercy must be engaged in the acceptance of our imperfect services. Does the reader understand and believe it? If he do, the earnestness with